[ d e e p P u r . p l e ) The Highway Star

June 4th 1999, Freilichtbuehne Heppenheim

DEEP PURPLE is coming home
    This feeling was spread out during last nights concert. I mean this in both ways, the personal one which everyone has been grasping and the special atmosphere of the band's first show after a break, really kicking off their German tour. [Hey! European tour! ;^) - Ed.]

The venue
    Heppenheim is a small town just in the middle between Frankfurt and Heidelberg. A romantic sight between vineyards and old castles. The crowd got to know each other before the show as the gates were opened 45' late. So we stood there in that long and winding road up to the Freilichtbühne ("daylight stage"), smelling some BBQ air, sweet smokes etc. We had some the activity as it started raining and it turned into a gathering of umbrellas, coats, rubbish bags...
    I saw an important looking guy (sunglasses) with a 'Shure-wireless' case in his hand trying to get in most quickly. Maybe this was the reason for the delay.

    Good choice! It was the best opener for DP I've ever seen in Germany. It's a local band with a couple of known songs, fiddling some Irish folk rock for approximately 30'. The introduced themselves as "Anti-Rain-Band" and "in advance birthday present" for JL. They even entered stage with the BLACK NIGHT-riff.

    What a brilliant, "superb" concert! All in the best mood, like a bundle of young guys who got back to their toys.
    Many people hardly recognized the one who grabbed the mike. DP with a short haired singer? My neighbour and IG afficionato Stefan told me to write "Ian, let your hair grow long again!" :-) Anyway, he was smiling, joking and walking around all the time. It was his and Steve's show. Based on the others, the amazing style of Jon and the solid rocking fundament of "the permanent grinner" Roger and our "sporty spice" IP (nice pants! :-)) ).

songs etc.
Nice sound checking tune, the crowd got it. They just played the riff and the chorus. I always wonder what other bands celebrate themselves when entering the stage; these guys come up, cheering, hand waving, saying "hello -how are you" and PLAY.
Very good start for both the band and the crowd. Everybody likes this amazing tune. JL and SM had extended soli, RG with his unforgetable 'up and down the bars'. Especially Steve set a big mark with his one for the whole show. Very impressive ! 10 000 hands up!
IG asked grinning "Are you ...wet ?!" (it once again had started raining). "Next song is about a guy called Ted and I've not met him in a striptease club"
Very tight, the people have adopted this song to a classic one, singing along the high notes in Gillan style.
Another joyful tune and one of the songs where I am fascinated by the tight playing, the groove, the celebration of every precisely worked out note.
"now the song for our management"
Very fine soli, especially from a nicely roaring Hammond. To me it appeared a little more tube distorted than in earlier shows.
Nice scene end of this song, when SM and RG switched off each other's instrument on the last beat.
"next song is something abandonising, (IP with snare-rim-clacking)... a typed version of...
What a surprise to hear this one live! It appeared that not everybody knew it, but the crowd gave it a big hand. During the song there was a brilliant interplay by JL and SM with the theme of THE MULE and PAINT IT BLACK.
IG had to add (inevitably) "The last song is not about a position, but a time and its mood, a review". Then he chatted something about a "field marshall".
It was quite tough to get all these Gillanisms, as I missed some during my laughing. "You all know this"...
It was the first peak of a very enthousiastic audience. This one beat after the tranquilising part is like a kick off for the 2nd half.
We tried to fight the external moisture with filling some hoppy stuff.
So IG asked "How is the beer? The next song is about a sad moment in a hotel, when you pick up a message. It's called 'Sometimes I need a beer';...err...'screaming'...'feel like'"
The people liked this one very much. Good to have it back in the set list. There was even a Gillanism during the song, as he sang instead of the regular chorus "something's put in my shoe". He almost dropped a line because his laughing.
As IG has promised it in the beginning of the show, the sky cleared up! Due to that they changed the setlist and played
The audience really rocked with this new tune.
And then...welcome back on the set list:
Very tight beats a the classic intro. I very much appreciate to have heard this one. After WFT the second peak of the show. It ended with a JL/SM duett leading to a SM solo.
It lead into the outro of Cascades. Very classic, SM performed all his skills.
The blinking harp in IG's hand indicated
One of the songs which give a lot fun to the people, we partied it a lot.
"Now it's time for a parade..." It was like everybody knew what song will follow, but everybody got fascinated by Steve's quoting of all the classic guitar riffs. As if Steve wanted to ask "Hey, do you know this one?...and this one...?" So we had Purple Haze, Sunshine of your love, some Led Zep(sorry for not knowing), You really got me, La Grange, War pigs, Here comes the sun, House of the rising sun and...
Followed by a very nice JL solo titled "fantasia on SOTW". Good length, like his long jacket (almost as a conductor...). What a style!
Calmly introducing...
People sang the whole lyrics. Though there was no more "falling rain".
"Now it's time for the worst love song we've ever written. Hey, look at all these prosperties up here on stage (glanced on the floor)!"
As always IP solo and Gillan versus the guitarist. And smiles everywhere. A duel with 2 winners, plus the audience. The band picked up BLUE SUEDE SHOES and played it a while.
IG avoided the high notes, but we shouldn't complain about that.
Awaited by the fans, good final peak. Though people yelled for more the band didn't return.

All in all it was absolutely impressive, wonderful, powerful performance. I heard no disappointed voice on the way home. Especially Steve "convinced" the crowd. I've asked myself before the show, whether there might be a kind of saturation for the band or for me. But yet again I just can't by stating to have witnessed a "superb" concert of truly the best rock band.

Christian Siegler

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